Gus Kenworthy Pips Nick Goepper For Slopestyle Grand Prix Win As Both Move Closer To Olympic Team

By Karen Price | Jan. 14, 2018, 5:38 p.m. (ET)
Gus Kenworthy poses for a portrait during the 100 Day Countdown celebration on Nov. 1, 2017 in New York City.

 

Four years ago at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper were part of a U.S. podium sweep in slopestyle skiing, winning silver and bronze medals, respectively.

On Sunday at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix in Aspen Snowmass, Colorado, they proved they both still have what it takes in a sport that’s progressed leaps and bounds since Sochi with first- and second-place finishes in the fourth of six qualifying events for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team.

Goepper led for almost two-thirds of the final, his 93.60 score on his first run keeping him atop the leaderboard as skier after skier completed their second runs. When it came time for Kenworthy’s second run, however, he unleashed a performance that scored a 95.40. Goepper and the rest of the field couldn’t top that in their third runs, giving Kenworthy his first victory in an Olympic selection event. It also marked Kenworthy’s first slopestyle win in almost two years; he won the European Freeski Open in March of 2016.

Now both will have two more chances to earn their spots in PyeongChang. Goepper, who had a second-place finish last month at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado, would have met the criteria on Sunday had he either won or finished seond and as the top American.

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The final qualifying events will be next weekend at Mammoth Mountain, California.

On the women’s side, Maggie Voisin followed up Saturday’s second-place performance that officially earned her a spot on the Olympic team with an identical finish to further solidify her status as a medal threat next month in PyeongChang.

She’s been among the strongest, most consistent U.S. women in the sport of late, winning the first qualifying event last season and then coming in fourth as the top American in this season’s first qualifier at the Dew Tour. Julia Krass finished fourth, earning valuable points in the race to the Olympic team.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.